What exactly is a Rape Kit?

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - FOX 32 wanted to know what exactly a rape kit is, what it contains, who handles it, and do pieces of it ever just get thrown out?

Our experts we talked to were able to speak about the process in Illinois, but tell us it's very similar nationwide.

“It shouldn't have happened, what happened shouldn’t have ever happened,” said Garry Bombard, Loyola University Chicago’s Forensic Science Program Director. “It should be in the police custody.”

He told FOX 32 the rape kit procedures may be slightly different state to state, but the chain of custody is the same: from hospital to police, to crime lab, and back to police.

“Generally, we are going to check that that's checked when it comes into the lab, so if it's not in sealed condition, we won't accept it,” said Dr. Bombard.

Megan Blomquist is the Director of Education and Training at Rape Victim Advocates, and she showed FOX 32 a rape kit she uses for training.

“This is the evidence kit, it takes very detailed information including which officer picked up the kit, that's how we keep the chain of custody here,” said Blomquist.

First, the victim has to give consent to start the rape kit.

The kits contain cavity swabs, hair combs, envelopes and evidence tape - all in one box.

“A little baggie to collect the clothing, like we talked about, sometimes underwear is taken, anything that was touched,” said Blomquist.

Once the rape kit is complete, the victim, again, has to give consent allowing the items to become evidence.

The sealed box then goes to police, who transport it to the crime lab for DNA testing. 

The lab then seals the box, and returns it to investigators.

Blomquist said this possible tampering of evidence in the Kane case is a huge blow to other victims.

“To show up at the hospital, to now shower, to let people touch your body all over after being sexually assaulted and to know that there's the potential that this evidence could be tampered with, it leaves other survivors feeling concerned that their evidence might not be taken care of,” said Blomquist.

Once the alleged victim signs off on the rape kit, all the evidence collected, even the clothing, is now owned by the state. The victims will not see their items again.